Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Happy" New Year!

Yes, I realize that it's February, so it seems a little late for a post about the New Year, but it's not my fault that time keeps traveling faster and faster as I get older!

It's been far too long since I've posted here and I really want to become more faithful about posting. Because God is at work in my life, and I've always felt it would be selfish to keep His amazing work all to myself!

It's been a tough couple of months. Summer and fall of last year were good – I was happy to be at home, having more time to write and to self-publish a book on Amazon (yay me!). But as the holidays rolled around, money was extremely tight and cabin fever set in, our family was on edge, in an extreme way! I'm talking about unprecedented bickering, fighting, name-calling, slamming, and even some slaps and kicks. And that was just between Al and me.

Just kidding, of course, but our children's feuding was at an all-time high and I could hardly stand it.

As much as I try to avoid it, Christmas, unfortunately brings its own bit of stress with shopping and cooking and traveling. I didn't do very well this past Christmas. I had a few breakdowns and panic attacks, one of which kept me home from Christmas Eve Mass.

Christmas Day was peaceful, and the days following when we traveled to my parents' house, 400 miles north in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There were sixteen of us crammed into their little house on the weekend and it was great fun; the grown-up cousins went outside and played in the snow with all of my kids, and my sister even joined in, being the snow-lover that she is. We cheered for the Packers from their cozy living room and celebrated Christmas together just like the good-old days.

But, after five days in close quarters, everyone was just a little more tired out and certain teenagers with our last name were ready to snap. We began the trek back to lower Michigan, only to be greeted with this news when we were about 40 miles from home: my good friend and neighbor, whose son had been looking after our cat and getting our mail, called me on my cell phone and gingerly explained, “There's a problem with your house.” She proceeded to tell me that the upstairs toilet tank cracked and had been running water continually into a large portion of our house for at least 24 hours, since that was the last time her son had come in to check on the cat. (When he told my kids about finding the leak, he said, “It was raining in your kitchen.”)

Naturally, I turned to God in prayer and calmly said, “Lord, you are good and faithful and I know You can handle this.”

Ha! I wish! What I really did was freak out and cry and hyperventilate a little and then freak out some more about the $500 deductible, which isn't too much, but it's a lot for a family with two unemployed parents right after Christmas. My neighbor prayed with me over the phone and then got to work. I continued to pray with much anxiety, saying, "God, you MUST have a way for us to get through this!"

By the time we reached home, our neighbor had called our insurance company and she had also telephoned our good friend who is a builder. They were both waiting in our front yard when we drove up, and shortly thereafter, we were greeted by a man from the restoration company that our builder friend had called. Another few neighbors were on hand to help with whatever they could, and the advice of others in my mind-numbed state was priceless: “Keep track of whatever you throw out so you can get reimbursed, move this stuff over here, find another place to stay.”


We were tired out and we just wanted to hang out at home with our cozy little Christmas tree and enjoy the remainder of the holidays. It hadn't even occurred to me that we would have to temporarily move out, but the extent of the damage was slowly settling into my brain – the kitchen ceiling had fallen in, the wood floor in the dining room was saturated, along with the upstairs stairway carpet. All along the walls that the water traveled, there was bubbling and peeling paint and parts of the drywall were simply caving in. And of course, the offending bathroom was unusable. That night, the restoration crew tore out our dining room floor and put in twelve industrial fans and three gigantic dehumidifiers. It was LOUD, to say the least.

We rushed to moved things out of the affected areas so that the work of drying and restoring could take place quickly. Then we put our cat and her food and her litter box into our bedroom, which was one of the few dry rooms. She was a bit shell-shocked to say the least and would hardly come out from under the bed. It must have seemed like the apocalypse to her with rain pouring down from the ceilings and pieces of the house literally falling down. But ultimately, she survived and doesn't seem any worse for the wear.

Kitchen ceiling (I didn't even manage to get the corner that completely fell)

Kitchen & Dining Room - the contractor put his finger right through the dry wall!

Kitchen in progress

Kitchen in progress

Dining room floor saturated

Dining room subfloor

Living room crammed with items from wet areas of the house!
(My son was attempting to play his new wii game from Christmas.)

 Pretty bathroom! 

But hark, there were blessings to be had.

ATTENTION: God Moment!

As we picked through the sopping wet mail that had been on our kitchen counter, I came across a simple envelope, similar to ones we've received in years past around the holidays. I carefully opened it and discovered a check for (remember how much our deductible was?) $500! It was from a lay brotherhood of men who are living single for the Lord. They've blessed us financially each year and prayed for our family in a special way, but this particular check was so perfectly timed that I laughed out loud and told God, “Okay, you can stop showing off now!” I paraded the check around to everyone in the house – neighbors, restoration crew, etc, because God's goodness should be shared and proclaimed, amiright?

It was then that I became excited about the fact that we were going to have a "forced renovation," even though I knew it would be very inconvenient for a while.

Anyway, that first night, which happened to be New Year's Eve, we stayed at our neighbors' house. They had plans, so it was just our little exhausted family sitting in their family room, eating whatever random snacks we could scrounge up without being too nosy, and drinking wine straight from the bottle.

The next few days were a blur, but we managed to get in touch with our insurance company over the holiday weekend and they made arrangements to put us up in a hotel. Now, I cannot complain whatsoever about the hotel – we had two apartment-sized suites, complete with separate bedrooms and kitchenettes. So the teenage girls got one suite to themselves, and it was a bit of fun for them to play house for a few weeks.

We ended up staying there for three weeks, which was a bit longer than we had first anticipated, even though the construction crew was quite expedient. Those weeks also blur together between meetings with the contractor and the insurance adjuster, and to make things more interesting, several trips to Urgent Care. The first one was on New Year's Day, and after that, everyone seemed to fall ill with this nasty upper respiratory virus that ended with a persistent ear infection and lots of coughing, and at least two cases of strep. There have been snow days and sick days aplenty since the beginning of our ordeal.

But now, we are finally back in our house with new walls, new paint, new carpets and hardwood floors in the kitchen and dining room, and life is starting to become “normal” again. Well, as normal as it will ever be.

So, I'll leave you with some fun pictures of the "new and improved" Yarrington house:

Kitchen looking into dining room - I am in LOVE with my new hardwood floor!

Upstairs bathroom with a new and hopefully long-lived toilet, and a new decorating scheme

We have new paint in our living room as well, but I'm not in love with it, so I won't post those pictures. Perhaps we'll pull out the paint brushes in the spring or summer and start over. Until then, we have much to be thankful for!

God is good.

No comments:

Post a Comment